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The Inspectorate of Government (IG) spokesperson, Ms Ali Munira said Ms Kamya was unwell and went for medical checkup
The former Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Beti Olive Namisango Kamya has failed to appear before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) after she reportedly suffered a ‘heart attack’.
Kamya, the current Inspector General of Government (IGG) was scheduled to appear Thursday morning before COSASE which is investigating fraud at the Uganda Land Commission (ULC). The investigations stem from queries in the Auditor General's report for the financial Year-2019/2020 that captured questionable transactions causing financial loss to the Government.
At the time of the audit- between December 2019 and May 2021- Kamya was in charge of the Lands Ministry that superintends over the operations of the Commission, which is mandated to document, verify, preserve and maintain land owned or administered by the government.
In his opening remarks in the committee sitting Thursday morning, the Chairperson, Joel Ssenyonyi, informed the MPs that he received information that Kamya had developed ‘excruciating pain in the heart’ and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention, and could not attend the meeting until she recovers.
"A few minutes to the start of the committee, the daughter said she (Kamya) got sudden excruciating pain in her heart. And the daughter said because of that sudden excruciating pain in her heart, she has rushed her to the hospital. That's the information the chairperson has recived. This chairperson is not a doctor but even if I'm a doctor, I have not examined the IGG. So, now that she has been rushed to the hospital, let's wait," Mr Ssenyonyi said.
The revelation generated mixed reactions from the legislators. Mr Muwada Nkunyingi, the Kyandondo East MP described the information as an excuse because past precedents have shown that witnesses advance similar excuses to elude the probe.
“It's more likely the witness will have an excuse not to appear. Otherwise when we tag it on when she recovers when will that be? I have seen another witness standing up regularly so, even these other witnesses are not well but they have managed to appear. So, we should not be quick to agree with [reports] that she's sick. This committee has powers to investigate further,” Mr Muwada said.
However, Ms Lucy Akello, the Amuru District Woman Representative argued that it is normal for sickness to occur and appealed that Kamya should be given the ‘benefit of the doubt’, although some MPs held that she ‘feigned sickness.’ Ssenyonyi ruled that the Committee will wait on and interface with the IGG when she improves.
“The concerns that Hon Muwada raises are legitimate concerns because there's a history of people feigning sickness but again, Hon Muwada could be wrong. So we can only wait. People can tell lies but again people can be genuinely sick. So, let's give [her] chance. So I'm going to get an update in one hour- what the severity of the situation is. Eventually we shall have to meet the IGG. If she's unwell today and cannot come it is normal; any other emergency could have arisen,” Mr Ssenyonyi argued.
When contacted, the Inspectorate of Government (IG) spokesperson, Ms Ali Munira said Ms Kamya was unwell and went for medical checkup.
“The IGG was unwell and went for medical checkup and Doctors advised her to rest. She's now okay,” said Ms Munira.
Among the queries, the Auditor General reported included shoddy accountability, irregular recruitment, and corruption. For instance, as of June 30, 2020, the payables balance for land compensation was Shs28 billion.
However, the report noted that the relevant supporting journals and documents for the liability of Shs9.4 billion were not availed for review rendering the genuineness of the liabilities doubtful.
Also, payables amounting to Shs15 billion were overstated in relation to the claim balance due to the compensation to the Church of Uganda. In a related matter, the Auditor General reported that the ULC does not have a land inventory despite Shs546 million being allocated for the same purpose, and yet as of March 28, 2020, the Commission had already spent Shillings 298 million.
In an October 12 letter, Lands Minister, Judith Nabakooba wrote to Kamya to investigate alleged cases of abuse and misuse of ULC resources, adding that findings would guide the process of restoring the order of the Commission.
Subsequently, in November, Kamya conducted the investigations leading to the suspension of ULC Chairperson Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, and Secretary/Accounting Officer, Barbarah Imaryo and immediate interdiction.
At the time, Kamya disclosed that there was sufficient evidence to pin Byenkya and Imaryo on the allegations adding that it was necessary for the two to step aside for fear of interfering with further investigations.